Three counties have come together to create a low-carbon, energy-efficient zone which they say will attract jobs.
Partners from across Carlow, Kilkenny and Wexford involved in the newly-established 3 Counties Energy Agency (3CEA) say the initiative “sets the area apart as a cluster for smart, low-carbon and energy-efficient business”.
The new alliance builds on achievements made by the Carlow-Kilkenny Energy Agency (CKEA) over the past 15 years.
Launching 3CEA on Friday, Marie Donnelly, former Director for Renewables, Research and Innovation, Energy Efficiency with the European Commission, said it creates an important zone in Ireland.
“It reinforces its sustainable credentials as a location for Irish and international business and is a frontrunner example not just for Ireland but also for Europe,” she said.
3CEA Manager Paddy Phelan added that, while local authorities in the region have been trying to lower their C02 emissions by 2030, individual counties working under the European Union’s Sustainable Energy Action Plans need to step up this effort across transport, agriculture, industry and community.
Everyone in this area, be they a multinational or a homeowner in a semi-detached house, will benefit from the low-carbon, energy-efficient hub for business this creates. It establishes a unique ecosystem across the three counties which will be similar to the environment created by the world-renowned Berlin Energy Agency.
“It will be a major boost to a part of the country which has traditionally lagged behind the rest of Ireland when it comes to job creation,” Phelan stated.
Phelan said, over the past five years, CKEA helped deliver cumulative energy savings of more than €14.3 million. Of this, 57% has been in thermal/heating costs for clients. A further 29% in energy savings have been achieved across transport, and 14% in electricity.
Through the Better Energy Communities (BEC) initiative and other programmes, CKEA has delivered €19.6 million in capital energy investment, creating over 300 jobs across construction, retrofit, technical, engineering and other jobs.
The new energy agency has worked with Kilkenny and Wexford county councils to cut the annual cost of street lighting by 64% across one-fifth of their entire street lighting fleet, with plans to complete this project over the next four years. In Wexford, annual savings of €81,000 have been achieved. The saving for Kilkenny was €101,547 for 2017.
Carlow County Council has completed more than 500 deep retrofits in its social housing stock, with only a small percentage remaining, to make the homes more energy-efficient.
In Kilkenny, several fire stations, GAA clubs, parish halls, community buildings and charitable organisations have been retrofitted with energy-saving materials under the BEC scheme.
Source: The Journal